Archive for Jan 22, 2007

Microsoft Abacus Watch – is it really so Smart?

If I said “MSN@Direct” to you, what would you say?  How about SPOT?  Would you look at me, blink slowly and then walk on by, or would you snigger something about craptastic wireless information services and dance the jig of market failure as a fitting coup de grace?  Well Microsoft obviously haven’t got the message yet (I assume the message contains a link to the YouTube version of that jig) because they’re still producing watches that can wirelessly update you with news, stock information and Outlook reminders.

Oh yes, so the screen is higher-resolution and it’s apparently “on-demand” rather than “when the system wants to tell you”, but is anybody really convinced – outside of Seattle – that this is a needed product?  I ask you, who wouldn’t be better served with, say, a Treo or other smartphone, maybe even a Bluetooth-enabled watch for those moments when whipping out your cellphone isn’t prudent but you still want to check your schedule.

Sorry guys, but I think you should let this one just die.


PSU goes power-mad

Ever since moving out of the familial home I’ve turned into a right electricity tyrant.  No light goes unswitched, no appliance left active without due cause; there’s something about footing your own bills that makes you pretty damn keen on saving power.  And so the thought of a 1,000W PSU fills me not with geeky joy but a sickening sense of watching paper money burn on a tiny fire. 

Yes, with a Galaxy DXX you could simultaneously power twenty-four of your favourite hard-drives, but won’t somebody think of the dozen pandas you’d have to shovel into the furnaces every few minutes to supply all the electricity?  I fear we’ll see a demonstration of Greenpeace activists barricading computer stores on its 27th January launch.


Is there a market for the $1.5k remote?

I’ve been pretty harsh on universal remote controls in the past.  It’s not that I don’t see the point of them – quite the opposite, in fact – but just that manufacturers seem to be in a race to fit as many buttons as possible in and end up with something that’s more difficult to fathom than the original brace you were hoping to replace.  Still, I’m nothing if not an optimist, and so I truly believe that the right remote is out there waiting for me.  And so like a mildly peckish beaver I devour any reviews that I spot, that empty place in my heart just desperate to be filled.

Latest up to parade itself in front of me is Philips’ Pronto Professional TSU9600, which builds on the success of the iconic original Pronto line by strapping on a few extra hard buttons and updating the screen, accompanying PC software and home-automation compatibility.  And so that’s how it fell into the hands of the folks over at Automated Home, who promptly spent around 12 hours tweaking it to high-heaven.


LG Shine struts its stuff

It’s turning into a real video day here on SlashGear, but if the Gods of Tech will insist on delivering the goodies then I see it as my earthly duty to show them to you.  So unbuckle your eyes and feast a while on the sight of LG’s ever-so-sexy Shine cellphone, here starring in its own promo video.  Gasp at the crisp edges.  Bleat at the sexy multifunction scroll wheel and glossy screen.  Moisten yourself slightly at the “Additional Convenient Features”, always a pleasure to see.

Oh yes, this should keep me going until iPhone day. 

YouTube [via Gadgetell]

XBOX 360 is hitting Chinese market soon

Microsoft is on its gear again. This time it will try to bring the XBOX 360 to China within couple months as it waits for authorization from the Chinese government. At this moment, Microsoft is also working with Chinese internet service providers and computer manufactures to prepare for the launch.

On an email to Reuters, Andres Vejarano, regional marketing director at Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division for Asia & Greater China commented “We take a long-term approach to each market and continue to evaluate the China market for opportunities,”

Reuters: Microsoft Plans Chinese Xbox 360 Launch [via gamasutra]

Apple to Charge Tiger Users for Boot Camp Final

Apple to Charge Tiger Users for Boot Camp Final

After the 802.11n patch fee fiasco, some media outlets are reporting that Apple plan on another charging spree. Apple indicates that it might charge $30 for the Boot Camp final release to OSX 10.4 users. Boot Camp, the application that allows Intel Mac users to boot into a Windows partition, is currently at Beta stage and will be included in the upcoming OSX 10.5 "Leopard". Apple are also saying that Boot Camp will support Windows Vista on its final release.

I personally use Boot Camp and I don't really mind paying $30 for it, but at the end of the day, I would probably jump onto the Leopard bandwagon.

Final Boot Camp To Be Offered To Tiger Users For $30? [via macrumors]

The font of creativity runs dry; iPod Speaker Docks suffer

The font of creativity runs dry; iPod Speaker Docks suffer

Of all the things Saffire could've "borrowed" industrial design from out of Apple's generally impecable catalogue, they had to go and choose the monstrous iPod HiFi.  And then, to add ridicule to blandness, they called their version the "iWoogie Blaster".  Now forgive me for seeming far too British and reserved, but I'm pretty sure I've never "woogied" and I don't intend to start now.


Compatible with all iPods and replete with an infra-red remote that actually has more features than the standard skip/play/pause you get with most of its ilk, the iWoogie Blaster's slogan is "Guarantee to Rock Speakers".  I'm not entirely certain as to how they monitor the effectiveness of this promise - perhaps a tilt sensor? - but should you be in the market for a speaker-dock that looks remarkably like a bread-bin then maybe this is the one for you.

More photos after the cut.

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More on using a pen with Vista

Having whet my appetite regarding the pen-features in Vista, I was pleased to see that more demonstrations of how Tablet PC afficianados will be catered for are hitting the web. SlashGear reader inago dropped by to point out some footage of pen-flicks and handwriting recognition using a Wacom Graphire4 6×8 tablet and business version of the OS and Office 2007.

Handwriting Recognition:

Check out his clip of pen-flicks after the cut.


Robo-dino nears birth

Robo-dino nears birth

Sometimes, when I wake up of a morning, before I even reach for the coffee I check on how Richard Attenborough is doing in his makeshift laboratory in the cupboard under my sink. "How are you doing, Richard Attenborough?" I ask, nudging him with my foot. "Please let me go, I'm just an actor, you have to believe me!" he replies, the cunning swine. I know that in reality he can breed me a whole theme-park full of dinosaurs and make me a millionaire. And then I have some cereal.

Until he reaches another breakthrough, I guess I'll have to make do with Ugobe's Pleo robotic dinosaur. The little green fellow has already generated quite a lot of hype, with Time, Inc. naming it one of their "Products of 2006", and as the 3rd February pre-order launch nears there's more information finding its way onto the internet.

PC Magazine's Lance Ulanoff met with the Ugobe guys and spent some hands-on time with Pleo at CES this year, and the developments are impressive. Movement is smoother, the artificial skin is more flexible and tactile, and the way Pleo reacts to different stimuli has been made more complex so as to make him appear even more lifelike.

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Minor Mass Production

Neatorama points to this incredible Lego Car Factory, obviously the product of someone with too much time on their hands and an obsession with constructing tiny vehicles. Still, they probably said the same about the people behind Toyota, and look at them now.

Some satisfying toggle-switches allow selections of colour, and then the cogs and gears hum into life to shuttle bricks between a variety of arms and construction platforms. Fantastic stuff!

[via Neatorama]

A walking, talking, dancing, squalking robot man

A walking, talking, dancing, squalking robot man

My favourite sci-fi film for as long as I can remember is The Day The Earth Stood Still.  What stands out particularly is the sight of guard-robot Gort, he of the impecable posture and few words, move from guarding the flying saucer to club the soldiers patrolling around it.  Still, perhaps it would've been an even more interesting movie had Gort been able to speak (though not as much as C3PO, obviously) - quoting some Shakespeare perhaps while melting guns in the hands of soldiers.  Klaatu should've spoken to the Botmag people.


They've taken a Robonova kit and added the Quadravox QV306M1 sound chip, capable of storing up to four minutes of chopped-up audio and spitting it out on demand.  Complex sentences (whether those be Homer Simpson-style "D'oh, my foot!" moments of Asimo stumbling or dark mutterings about taking over the world) can be built up using the PC software and docking station.

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Shock! A sexy phone not made by Apple!

It feels a little bit like we’re not allowed to say cellphones are attractive any more, what with the iPhone and its perception-warping ability to draw the eye in and elicit cries of “it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”  And yet I’m thinking that this KDDI au cellphone, called the MEDIA SKIN, is a particularly sexy design; the sharp edges, matte casing, unassuming keypad and crisp UI all add up to a great looking handset.

Now it might not have a fancy multi-touch screen, but the MEDIA SKIN’s is 2.4-inches of 260k colour, 240×320 resolution prettiness and manages a fantastic 10,000:1 contrast ratio.  That’s better than a lot of plasma TVs!  A 1.3 Megapixel camera with memory upgradeable to 2GB via microSD rounds out the 105g handset’s features, but personally it’s the design of the thing that I’m most enjoying. 

KDDI au MEDIA SKIN cellphone

Lots more photos after the cut.